Under normal circumstances living with a cancer diagnosis, whether your own or that of a loved one, is known to cause increased feelings of anxiety. Add to that a global health pandemic and you can imagine those feelings would increase exponentially. We are currently experiencing that reality.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilda’s Club members shared that anxiety was a major concern as the crisis grew and New York City became the epicenter. Our clinical team put their heads together to create this list of their Top 10 Tips to Reduce Anxiety as a resource for anyone in need of help – and we’re happy to share it with our community now.
Gilda’s Club NYC’s Top 10 Tips to Reduce Anxiety
- Grand Canyon
Picture that the Grand Canyon is your life – your past, present and future. Start envisioning the various parts of your life within the canyon: Over there is the day you were born, your third-grade choir performance, your job as a babysitter. Picture your present: There’s your apartment, your friends, your mom, the book you’re reading right now. Picture your future: There’s your next vacation, the love of your life, your future children, the Top Chef finale.
Now, picture the enormous Grand Canyon and drop your worry into it. Whatever you’re worrying about — your cranky boss, your dating life, a salty comment from a friend — will be barely visible. “See how tiny it looks?” she says. Suddenly your problem will seem much, much smaller in comparison to the grand course of your huge, rich, long life.
(Source: Cup of Jo)
- Five Things
Think of or write down …
• Five things you see
• Four things you can physically feel
• Three things you hear
• Two things you smell
• One thing you like about yourself
- What If?
When you’re going to the worst-case scenario, turn your worries around. For example, “I am so scared that I’ll fail this test and flunk school” — turn it around to “What if I pass this test, pass the class, and get great praise from my parents about it?” Or, “I’m scared to call this friend because she may not want to talk to me” turns into, “What if I call and she’s so happy that I did?” (Source: Oprah.com / Brene Brown)
- Stop Sign
Picture a big red stop sign when you think of anxiety. STOP! YOU ARE BEING ANXIOUS.
- Fact Check Your Anxiety
Consider the sources of what you’re anxious about and try to consider the positive outcomes of your situation.
- Music / Dance
Listen to a song that calms your anxiety, like “Weightless” by Marconi Union that is supposed to be clinically calming. Or put on your favorite jam and dance like crazy for the whole length of it.
- Practice a Breathing Exercise
Try 4-7-8 breathing for starters:
• Breathe in for four breaths
• Hold for seven breaths
• Exhale for eight breaths
- Practice Gratitude
Write down three things you’re grateful for.
- Create a Schedule
Some people find schedules comforting, and some find them constricting. If you’re up for trying it out, here is a proposed schedule for starting each day:
• Wake up each morning and practice three deep breaths.
• Make your bed.
• Practice 10 minutes of stretching on the floor or on a towel.
• Watch a yoga class on YouTube or sign up for one at Gilda’s Club.
- Practice Meditation and Appreciate the Moment
Here is a brief love and kindness meditation for starters:
• Think of one person in your life who loves you, send them silent words of gratitude.
• Think of one person who you’d like to know better, send them silent words of encouragement and warmth.
• Think of one person who could use a little extra love these days who’s struggling and maybe making you a little crazy, send them some silent love and care.
You could also try one of the many smartphone apps available now like Calm or Headspace (both have free versions).
We hope these tips are helpful and we have also posted them on Instagram – @GildasClubNYC – so they can be easily accessed from anywhere.